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Traditional boat-building survives despite the hardship - Australian MarineBusinessWorld newsletter

by Peter Rendle 13 Aug 15:00 PDT
28ft Couta Boat built by Robert Gordon in Sydney © Andrea Francolini

Our industry spans a wide cross section of boating businesses. From mass-produced FRP manufacturing plants through hand-built timber boat yards the current pandemic has affected all of them. Today we bring you two profiles of the 'small end of town'. A note from a traditional builder and how they are responding to the pandemic, and from the other, a selection of pictures that reflect the 'art form' associated with traditional construction methods.

From South East Victoria, Corsair advises "We are all looking forward to the day when we can stroll along a beach, go boating (whether it be sailing or power boating), have a round of golf, catch up with family and friends and many other fun and social activities. Although this is not to happen in the foreseeable future, under the recently announced Victorian State Governments Stage 4 Restrictions, we are able to keep trading under strict conditions. This means we are able to haul out boats, store them in our secured yard in Rosebud, and perform maintenance and servicing."

From New South Wales, builder Gordon Wooden Boats, nestled into the railway aqueduct at Lavender Bay, is where Robert Gordon and his team are hard at work finishing a 28' Couta Boat. Yes, she's a long way from her spiritual home of Sorrento, but around 12 years ago, Mark Abbott (now Corsair Boats) penned this slightly longer version of the venerable 'fishing' craft when he was at Tim Phillip's Wooden Boat Shop. Andrea Francolini combines his photographic ability to convey "marine art" with a series of black and white images.

As the world discusses the best way to maintain energy sources, electric-powered boats are becoming a reality. Not everyone wants to power along at 24 knots and Flagstaff Marine was recently chosen to be the NSW agent for Silent Yachts, pioneers in solar-powered cruising. "We were attracted to Silent Yachts because they offer their owners a proven capability to explore the oceans of the world in a power catamaran that is powered by solar energy". Their vision is to "establish a new era of sustainable yachting by creating the most innovative and self-sufficient yachts".

Cruising at 6-7 knots the revolutionary Silent Yacht twin electric motors rely solely on the power of the sun captured via the array of solar panels on the roof and highly efficient battery banks on board. If weather or circumstances require that you need to reach your destination in a hurry then the onboard generator can supply additional charge to the batteries and enable you to cruise at speeds of up to 17 knots.

However, on Sydney Harbour, conventional technology is being used to keep an eye on boating activity. Safety on Australia's most iconic waterway is in for a boost, with the delivery of a new state-of-the art patrol boat. NSW Maritime Acting Executive Director Alex Barrell said the new eight-metre NSW Maritime patrol boat would be operated on Sydney Harbour by boating safety officers who provide on-water safety advice and help to boaters 365 days a year.

"Sydney Harbour-based boating safety officers have their job cut out for them with the diversity of water craft, from kayaks to the Manly ferry, and this new patrol boat will help with the task of keeping everyone on the harbour safe," Mr Barrell said. "The new vessel is equipped with the latest navigation equipment, including digital switching that will allow operation from two multi-functional display screens. It also features Doppler radar, a rear-facing camera, 3D sonar and sounder and forward-looking infrared technology."

And as promised in last week's newsletter, a boat review of the latest Maritimo offering, the X50R. PowerBoat-World.com editor, John Curnow, takes you on a trip that gives a detailed analysis of this incredible craft, complete with a video.

Stay safe,
Peter Rendle peter.rendle@marinebusinessworld.com

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